Kalihiwai Beach is one of the prettiest beaches on the north shore of Kauai, Hawaii

Kalihiwai Beach, Kauai, HI: Complete 2024 Visitor Guide

One of the more secluded beaches on the north shore of Kauai, Kalihiwai Beach is worth visiting for its picturesque setting.

A swathe of golden sand on Kalihiwai Bay, this beautiful beach has a backdrop of tropical vegetation and is bordered on one end by the Kalihiwai River. Lava cliffs rise up on either end for a picture postcard setting.

Located east of the communities of Hanalei and Princeville, Kalihiwai Beach is a nice stop if you are beach-hopping along Kauai’s north shore (which we think you should, because there are so many pretty beaches here!)

Kalihiwai Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
Golden sands and turquoise waters at Kalihiwai Beach

Whether you’re looking to spend some quiet time in the sun or take photos of the beautiful landscape, Kalihiwai Beach is a great addition to your Kauai itinerary.

We spend at least one morning or afternoon here on every trip to Kauai, because the seclusion is addictive and the scenery delightful. Off the main highway, it’s a great spot for some true R&R on a busy sightseeing trip.

Let’s get started discovering how to visit Kalihiwai Beach in Kauai, Hawaii!

Visiting Kauai? The only way to get a real feel for the rugged beauty of this incredible island is through a helicopter tour!

Kalihiwai Beach in Kauai, Hawaii
Lava cliff at Kalihiwai Beach in Kauai

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Kalihiwai Beach Directions

Kalihiwai Beach, part of Kalihiwai Bay on Kauai’s North Shore, is a little over 8 miles east of Hanalei, off the Kuhio Highway (Highway 560 and Highway 56).

Traveling east from Hanalei, make a left on Kalihiwai Road, which follows the beach almost up to the Kalihiwai River. (Don’t take the first turn onto Kalihiwai Road, take the second one that’s right before the Anaina Hou Community Park.)

Coming up from Lihue or Poipu, travel west along the Kuhio Highway from Kilauea towards Princeville, and turn right onto Kalihiwai Road, just before mile marker 24.

Want to use Google maps or GPS? Put in Kalihiwai Beach, Kalihiwai, HI 96754.

Kalihiwai Beach Parking

You’ll find dirt parking for Kalihiwai Beach toward the end of Kalihiwai Road.

You can also pull off the road and park alongside the road on the dirt if you find a wide enough spot.

Kalihiwai Beach Map

The Kalihiwai Beach map below shows the location of Kalihiwai Beach, and the main attractions nearby.

Kalihiwai Beach Access

Kalihiwai Beach is just a few steps from the dirt parking area on Kalihiwai Road. No hiking required!

Just grab your gear and walk onto the sand.

Kalihiwai Beach Reservations

Kalihiwai Beach does not require any reservations.

Kalihiwai Beach Amenities / Facilities

Location: Kalihiwai, north shore of Kauai
Lifeguard: No
Beach Amenities: None
Food Nearby: Restaurants at the nearby resorts in Princeville and in the town of Hanalei
Parking: Dirt parking area at the end of the road, parking by the side of the road
Directions: On Kalihiwai Road, off Kuhio Highway (Highway 56) near mile marker 24

Kalihiwai Beach is undeveloped and pristine. You will not find lifeguards, restrooms, or showers here.

Bring food, snacks, water, and any equipment or beach gear you need, and be sure to pack everything out after your visit so the beach stays unspoiled for future visitors!

You’ll find public restrooms and showers at Anini Beach Park, about a 10-minute drive from Kalihiwai Beach.

Best Things to Do at Kalihiwai Beach

1. Kalihiwai Beach Swimming

In the summer, when conditions are calm, you can usually swim at Kalihiwai Beach. In fact, Kalihiwai Beach is considered one of the best swimming beaches in Kauai.

But always exercise caution, as there are no lifeguards, and ocean conditions are dynamic.

We’ve seen local families with kids at this beach in the summer, enjoying calm conditions in the bay.

As is the case with most other Kauai north shore beaches, do not enter the waters if the surf is high, as is usually the case in winter.

Kalihiwai Beach is a usually uncrowded beach in Kauai, Hawaii
Kalihiwai Beach is usually uncrowded

2. Kalihiwai Beach Surfing and Bodyboarding

In the winter, Kalihiwai Beach is considered an expert destination on Kauai’s north shore for surfing and bodyboarding.

However, the winter waves here can be dangerous, so leave the waves to experts and watch the action from the shore.

In the summer, smaller waves mean that beginner surfers and boogie boarders can try riding them, although there are better spots along the north shore, like Hanalei Bay.

3. Sunbathe or Relax with a Book on Kalihiwai Beach

The golden sand at Kalihiwai Beach is perfect for soaking in the rays on nice weather days.

Lay down a blanket (it’s a blissfully uncrowded beach), or set up a lounger, lather on reef safe sunscreen, and bask in the warmth of the sun with a good book!

If it gets too sunny, you can retire to a shaded spot under the ironwood trees in the back of the beach.

4. Stroll Kalihiwai Beach

Kalihiwai Beach is a perfect strolling beach. It’s a nice long stretch of beach, and the sand isn’t too loose, making it great for walking or jogging.

We love to start our mornings on the north shore of Kauai with a walk along the secluded Kalihiwai Beach, looking for bits of coral or shells and enjoying the views of the lava cliffs.

Keep an eye open for unleashed dogs on the beach: local residents sometimes allow their dogs to run unattended on the sand here.

Kalihiwai Beach Kauai Hawaii
Lava cliffs surround Kalihiwai Beach on both sides

5. Enjoy the Kalihiwai Stream

The Kalihiwai Stream, which borders the beach at the western end, is a popular recreation spot when it’s not raining or flooded.

You’ll see folks taking a dip in the stream, floating, or fishing. Kids enjoying wading here.

You can go kayaking up the stream if you like, or enjoy stand-up paddleboarding along the stream. If you kayak past the bridge you can view the two waterfalls that the stream creates before it flows into the bay.

6. Have a picnic

Ironwood trees at the back of Kalihiwai Beach offer shade.

Bring along a picnic meal to enjoy in scenic surroundings after you splash in the waves or stroll on the sand.

Walking westward along kalihiwai Beach in Kauai, Hawaii
Walking westward along Kalihiwai Beach

Snorkeling and Water Activities Gear Checklist

Though you can rent snorkeling gear or use the ones that come with tours, we invested in our own gear, mainly due to Covid-19 (why take the risk?).

Ocean Safety Tips

Hawaii’s beaches are beautiful, but ocean activities can be dangerous. Ocean conditions are dynamic and can change without warning.

Here are some tips to enjoy the ocean and beaches safely:

  • ALWAYS heed posted warning signs.
  • Check conditions just before you arrive at your chosen beach, and watch conditions at the beach for a bit before you decide to enter the water.
  • Swim at a lifeguarded beach and ask the lifeguard for advice before you enter the water.
  • Never turn your back on the ocean, whether you are standing at the shore or on a cliff above. If you see wet rocks or sand, it means the water has been here recently.
  • Know your limitations, especially if you are not an experienced swimmer. If in doubt, do not go out.
  • If you choose to enter the water, go with a partner or in a group.
  • Know that alcohol can impair judgment and motor skills in the water.
  • Keep children close and always keep your eyes on what they are doing in the water.
  • Watch for sharp coral or rocks or sea urchins.
  • Check advisories regarding water quality at various beaches here.

The Best Kauai Tours

Have you booked these top Kauai guided adventures yet?

Sunset catamaran tour of the Na Pali Coast (relatively more stable ride, insane views on good weather days!)

Doors-off helicopter tour of Kauai (unobstructed views, chance to see more of the island than you can by land, no middle seats!)

Kayak on the Wailua River plus hike to a waterfall (a super fun activity for active travelers, albeit a little muddy sometimes!)

Raft trip to the Na Pali Coast plus snorkeling (prepare to get wet on this exhilarating adventure!)

Eurocopter ECO-Star helicopter tour over Kauai (the most booked Kauai helicopter tour on Viator with close to 2K reviews and a 5-star rating!)

Entire Kauai Island Air Tour (super popular, less expensive than a heli tour, large bubble windows for flightseeing!)

Renting a Car in Kauai

The best things to do in Kauai are scattered all over the island.

Public transport options on Kauai aren’t great, so if you want to explore the island beyond your base, you’ll want to book a rental car for your Kauai trip.

We always use Discover Cars to book Kauai car rentals. They search across a variety of rental car companies, both budget and brand, to offer you the best deals, AND they offer free cancellations. Plus, there are no hidden fees.

>> Check availability and prices on Kauai car rentals now!

Lihue Airport-Hotel Shuttle

Not planning to pick up a rental car at Lihue airport? Pre-arrange round trip transfer from the airport to your hotel and back!

This shared shuttle serves hotels or vacation rentals in Princeville, Kahala, Poipu, Kapaa, or Lihue, and then back again. It’s convenient and inexpensive, and saves time and hassle!

>> Check prices and availability for shared round-trip airport transfer in Kauai now!

Where to Stay in Kauai

Depending on whether you want a vacation rental with more room and the option to cook some of your meals, or you want a resort or hotel experience, and depending on which part of Kauai you want to choose as your base, you have a variety of options.

Since you’ll likely want to base in a couple places on your trip to Kauai, we suggest starting your search for Kauai accommodations by browsing vacation rentals on VRBO.

We have stayed in VRBO rentals in both Poipu and Princeville and find that the choice and quality are generally great.

>> Look for a Kauai vacation rental on VRBO now!

Want detailed recommendations for accommodations in Kauai? Check out our comprehensive guide to the best places to stay in Kauai!

Kalihiwai Beach Kauai Hawaii
Kalihiwai Beach offers shade

More Kauai Travel Inspiration

Considering a trip to the Garden Isle in Hawaii? You’ll definitely want to check out some of our other comprehensive Kauai travel and attraction guides!

If you are a first-time visitor to Kauai, start by discovering the best things to do in Kauai! From beaches and botanical gardens to cliffs, canyons, and waterfalls, Kauai has it all, and our round-up lists all of Kauai’s must-experience activities and attractions.

Planning to split a week between Kauai and another island? We have a 3 days in Kauai itinerary article you must read to help flesh out what you would like to see and do!

Learn about the best things to do in Hanalei and Kauai’s scenic north shore, the best things to do in Poipu and Kauai’s south shore, and the most exciting things to do on Kauai’s Coconut Side or east side.

Read our in-depth guide to visiting the Na Pali Coast of Kauai. We give you the full scoop on the best ways to visit this stunning coast in the remote northwest of the island.

Discover our round-up of the nine spectacular state parks in Kauai, which house some of Kauai’s most treasured natural wonders.

We also have visitor’s guides to popular parks like Waimea Canyon State Park, which protects the namesake canyon, nearby Kokee State Park, and the remote but beautiful Polihale State Park.

Also check out the ultimate guide to visiting Haena State Park on Kauai’s north shore, and a full guide to hiking the epic Kalalau Trail.

Check out our round-up of the most beautiful waterfalls in Kauai, from waterfalls you can view from the road to falls that require hiking and falls that are best seen from a helicopter or sightseeing flight. We also have an article on everything you need to know to visit Secret Falls Kauai on an exciting kayaking and hiking tour.

Read our guide to Wailua River State Park to discover two easy-to-access Kauai waterfalls, and our trail guide for the easy hike to Ho’opi’i Falls. We also have an article on the best Kauai waterfall hikes.

And if a helicopter tour is part of your plans for Kauai, read our article on the top-rated helicopter tours in Kauai!

Hiking enthusiasts will want to read our article on the best hikes in Koke’e State Park: the trails here are some of the best hikes in Kauai!

We have detailed trail guides for the most popular Koke’e hikes, from the scenic Canyon Trail to the top of Waipo’o Falls, to the epic Awa’awapuhi Trail, challenging but very rewarding!

Also discover the best hikes in Waimea Canyon State Park, and the best hikes on Kauai’s north shore.

We also have a trail guide for the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail on Kauai’s scenic south shore, an article on how to hike the Sleeping Giant Trail, and a guide to the Kuilau Ridge Trail, one of the easy hikes on Kauai.

Get the scoop on the best botanical gardens in Kauai, from Limahuli Garden on the north shore to McBryde and Allerton Gardens on the south shore.

Read our guide to the best swimming beaches on Kauai, from Hanalei Bay on the north shore to Poipu Beach on the south shore!

We also have a guide to the best snorkeling beaches on Kauai, a round-up of the best Kauai north shore beaches, and an article on the best Kauai south shore beaches!

And if you love watching the sun go down in a burst of color, be sure to read our article on where to go for the best sunsets on Kauai!

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Discover the complete guide to visiting Kalihiwai Beach on the north shore of Kauai in Hawaii. Things to do, how to get here, more!


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